Create a Celebration Journal

Who says a personal journal is meant to be a “foul weather friend,” used only as a refuge when life swells with troubles, and best written and kept in solitude? Consider keeping a journal that serves an opposite purpose: a good-time journal, spilling over with life’s blessings and bounties, and shared in the company of like-spirited friends. Create your own personal journal of celebration with pages that contain a colorful record of the events and surprises, rewards and gifts that make your life a joy.

Once you begin noticing them, occurrences for celebration have a way of multiplying &#151 a sunrise or sunset, summer rain or winter snow, a birth, a marriage, the harvest of your garden, the blooming of a rose, Sunday brunch with friends, a song, a poem, a tender kiss or embrace. Celebrate both great and small moments, those that pass in a heartbeat or last a lifetime!

As well as keeping good memories alive, writing in a celebration journal is good for the spirit, too &#151 a tangible, commemorative way to “count your blessings.” Further, if you make the book that holds your remembrances and you join with friends to form a Celebration Journal Group, your journal will actually bring reasons to celebrate to you. Each time you gather together &#151 to create the books, to write or illustrate the pages, or to share the contents of your journals &#151 you will be both creating and participating in another celebration.

One Celebration Story
In a project named “Celebration Journals for the Millennium,” book artist Joan Crone invited 23 of her friends to participate in an 18-month journal-keeping undertaking. The project began in March 1999, following the eve of the second Blue Moon, when the journal-writers received a Celebration Journal and pledged to record within its pages a rendering of personal celebrations through November 2000.

For the millennium project, Crone created a journal for each member. Like books created by monks thousands of years ago, the Celebration Journals are handmade. In brilliant hues of magenta, teal or tangerine, decorative pastepaper graces the covers and envelops each of the acid-free signatures within. The oversize journals are sewn with waxed linen, and the spines are tied with beautiful glass, stone beads and antique silver charms. A single, tiny Tibetan chime, also along the spine, calls the muse.

“I kept my first celebration journal in 1983, and it turned my life around,” says Crone, a lifelong journal writer and teacher of journaling. “The more I thought about the millennium, the more I felt it should be observed in a unique way. Somehow the two things blended in my mind and ‘Celebration Journals for the Millennium’ came to be.”

Sporadically and sometimes spontaneously over the course of the project, the journalers came together to write or make art in their books. Crone opened her studio for Celebration Journal sessions, during which participants worked side-by-side, scribing and illuminating. Mostly, however, they worked alone, recording their many and varied experiences. One journaler celebrated his 50th birthday in his journal, traveling with it to Greece. Another’s pages were replete with pictures of the writer’s lively and photogenic kitty. Crone considered hers rather like Virginia Woolf’s, a “capacious hold-all, in which one flings a mass of odds and ends without looking.”

Five men and 19 women made up the group; the oldest was 83 when the project began, the youngest, 31. They were a tribe of committed journal-keepers that spread from New Mexico and Oregon to Maine and California: writers, teachers, therapists and counselors, graphic and fiber artists, a naval architect, a real estate manager, the owner of a bed and breakfast, a weaver, several poets, one musician and a nun. Crone knew each individual member from other journal groups, and many of them, like her, were long-time journalers. Some of the participants had also been together in other groups, and the project created further opportunity for them to share their lives through journaling.

Like the millennium observances of the past year, this Celebration Journal project has officially concluded, but the journaling continues still. Certainly no one can measure the amount of joy generated by 24 grateful journal-writers multiplied by 18 months of chronicled celebrations, but surely each participant felt its joyful impact. Closing her journal, one writer said, “I know I will find something to celebrate each day for the rest of my life.”

This article appeared in the June 2001 issue of Personal Journaling.

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